Recently we’ve had a number of clients ask us to help them scope and assess potential vendors for their full website redesigns. In the process we’ve come up with a list of a few must haves for any new credit union or bank website.
Now this might sound like just basic stuff, but some vendors out there have their own proprietary CMS platforms and we recommend you go with a content management system that is more universal and user-friendly. Even some themes in WordPress aren’t terribly intuitive anymore.
We suggest getting a demo from the prospective web designer, and ask them to show you how easy (or hard) it is to do some of the most regular edits you will need to make. Your internal team should be able to:
- update banners,
- change body and header text,
- embed a form
- and create new landing pages, all without a ton of effort.
We see lots of gorgeous new websites out there, but many of them still lack personalization and email integration. So again, they are just more fancy, modern, digital brochures for your financial institution. But these sites are impossible to monetize!
Your new website should have the ability to move a user from digital behavior that might indicate an interest in a product, further down their buying journey. So, take the example of an auto loan.
If someone comes to visit your auto loan product page, you should be able to re-market to this person via digital or social media ads. If you already have their contact information you should also be able to send an email to the prospect that follows up on their possible interest.
And the next time the same user comes back to your website or mobile app the content should adjust to a blog or another offer related to their specific product or service interest, in this example, an auto loan banner or link of some kind.
Creating the various page templates for your new website is typically the first main hurdle in a new web site project. But what often gets missed is the amount of new content that will also need to be developed during the process.
We recommend that you have some help with content writing for at least 60-70% of the pages you estimate will need to be ready when the new site is complete for launch. The remaining content will need to be written by your internal staff, so this partner agency needs to be able to train your team on the ins and outs of SEO content, so that you can produce this additional content in a timely manner.
New content tends to be one of the biggest delays during website redesign projects, so having help contracted from the beginning of the project is a very good use of your budget.
If your new website will include 60 pages, we recommend that your partner agency should be ready to help you create SEO optimized content for at least 35-40 of these pages. And this content writing should include updating all on-page SEO (ie. Titles, URLs, Meta-descriptions, Header Tags, and Body Text). You’ll have to write the rest.
If you are a small or one-person marketing department you’ll likely need more help with content writing, so adjust this expectation accordingly when you ask for your proposal.
As referenced above, your new website should have the ability to customize a user’s experience when they visit your website.
For example, with existing customers, if you know someone is a high priority for a home equity line of credit, when they visit your website your content should adjust to reflect this potential. Perhaps include links to home equity blogs, banner or product offers as the first item them see when they visit your website or if possible when they log into online banking.
Or, if they are a new visitor to your website, but have recently been to a specific product or service page, your banner might shift to reflect this known product interest.
Personalization makes people feel more valued and reduces friction in the buying journey. Further, personalizing experiences will improve upselling results and customer retention. The ability to personalize content is a MUST have for any new Financial Institution website.
Now this one is tricky. Web developers typically have a lot of skin in the game with regards to ADA compliance, so we always recommend asking an independent auditor to evaluate your site for compliance. This way you know 100% for sure that your site is meeting all the requirements.
And PLEASE, make sure your audit includes some live-user testing. Do NOT allow an audit with only a scanning tool. These can lead to false positive results and miss many details that live-user testing will address.
Some developers will guarantee you an ADA compliant site on launch. Just make sure you know what to do to KEEP it compliant!
A good Web design agency should create a mobile experience that is designed specifically for these smaller devices, rather than just a responsive design that scales down the content you have on your desktop version of the website.
So, for example, on a larger screen you might have a normal amount of text on a page, maybe a paragraph or two. But on a truly optimized mobile version it might be necessary to scale the amount of text back significantly, and even incorporate bullets or shorter phrases in place of sentences.
We don’t mean that you need two completely different versions of the site, but smart content designed specifically for the mobile experience will lead to a better version of the site on smart phones and tablets.
And when you use Google AMP, which should be enabled by your developer, it will remove unnecessary script in code that slows download times on mobile devices. The result is a more simplified version of the site that will achieve higher search results over time.
Building on the last item, we run periodic speed tests on our own website as well as for clients. You can use tools like HubSpot’s Website Grader or the Google Desktop and Mobile Speed Test to simulate load times on a smart phones for these performance tests.
As referenced above, you’ll want to ensure that Google AMP is enabled, and that features like image compression, render blocking and browser caching are all functioning appropriately to increase the speed and performance of your site.
Again, this is key for being able to tie leads and conversions to your new website. And when your Financial Institution is investing $50-100k+ on an asset like your website you need to be able to report on these efforts.
Ideally your new site will live on a system like HubSpot, where you can have lead capture forms and visual calls to action right in the same dashboard as your larger content management system, and even tie these efforts directly with contacts as they come in as new leads via a built in CRM.
Then your marketing and sales teams can create workflows that will automatically reach out to new leads as they convert on your site by filling out a form. Once they get further down their buying journey your team can then decide when it’s appropriate for a staff member to reach out individually and offer advice or help with next steps.
One thing we’ve begun to notice with a few proposals we’ve seen recently is that a lot of companies are actually charging extra for providing what Google Analytics gives any website for FREE!
Don’t let a web developer make you pay them for access to monthly traffic and behavior stats. These should be included with any new website at no additional charge!
There’s a lot of reasons why your website needs a blog, but to name a few…
Content on your site won’t be found in organic search unless it’s updated often and generates high quality search and linking traffic. If you only want to use your website to communicate with existing customers, then maybe a blog isn’t as essential. But if you want your website to reach potential new customers you’ll need a robust content strategy, and a blog has to be a part of this.
Furthermore, the banking buying journey is long and people do a lot of research during the process of considering a new account or service. A blog can provide educational content that will be useful during this consideration phase of a buying journey.
And finally, you need to give people a reason to come to your website apart from logging into online banking or finding your locations, hours or other contact information. A blog helps tremendously with this and can go a long way to building rapport and trust with your current and potential new customers.
More and more we are seeing text and even video testimonials on Bank and Credit Union websites and these are fantastic for building trust. We also recommend that you work to get online reviews on sites like Google, Yelp and Facebook, as these will directly impact your search results over time.
Finally, your website needs video. We have seen fantastic product and service videos that enhance the user experience on a website and humanize the brand. These can include customer or member testimonials, but you can also leverage your staff in videos. After all, your staff should be your biggest brand ambassadors, so ask them why they love what they do, and then share those stories with your larger audience online.
For more information on marketing and sales for financial institutions email us today!